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Get ready for a wild day

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Youth Leadership program works hard throughout the community all year long. The ninth through 12-grade students attend a two-day summer leadership orientation before being divided into teams that work together during the school year.

The 30 students are divided into three teams that work on a variety of projects that benefit the community in many ways.

The teams select names, assign duties and carry out out tasks all in the name of community and leadership.

XBRD, S3 and Flash Dance have added fundraising to their plates this year in an effort to purchase a needed item for Los Alamos High School. A trash can, recycle bins or a park bench are the items the organization is considering purchasing.

The teams have sold T-shirts, roses, held car washes and more, to earn the money needed to pay for their projects.

These youth leaders have most recently held a March on Hunger, to benefit food supply resources in the community.

Their other projects included cleaning the ski hill, repairing the LAHS concession stand and serving as advisors to the local tobacco initiative in conjunction with the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and Los Alamos Family Council, as well as  providing youth feedback to the Los Alamos Historical Society.

The biggest event of the year is about to come to a head with all three teams pitching in for LAYL Wild Day on Saturday. The wild happenings unite the oldest of youth with the youngest, for a day of fun, games and festivities.

The XBRD team has supervised the preparation for the wild event under the direction of Keanna Cohen. “We have an extraordinary, experienced student leader in Keanna and the rest of the team is right there with her,” Lori Heimdahl Gibson said, who works in an adult capacity, while letting the youth drive the program.

Sharon Stover, who has led Los Alamos Youth Leadership since its inception in 2005, helped inspire students with a grant-writing workshop the previous year. “The LAYL students came together last year when Cheryl and Morrie Pongratz offered a grant of $250 for a youth project,” Stover said.

Cheryl Pongratz organized the training for the grant-writing workshop and essentially offered up the money for the grant.

“It was Keanna Cohen’s Team (A-Squad) that submitted a proposal to Mrs. Pongratz. The proposal was for high school students to connect with elementary students and have some fun. We had expected 30, would have been delighted with 50, but we had 92 kids,” Stover said.

The three teams have divided the duties for the 2009 event, which takes place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes, art, crafts, lunch and fun for a comparatively small fee, which is $15. The second annual event appears to be even better, as the youth leaders have added experience to their resume. The event takes place at Sullivan Field, UNM-LA field and Griffith Gym at Los Alamos High School.

“People should come because LAYL Wild Day is a chance for everyone to have lots of fun. The kids get to spend a day doing their favorite thing: playing with their friends and making new ones. They will have a blast and will be able to use their imagination in creative ways as well as having some wild fun playing their favorite games,” XBRD team member Bahram Bandisar said.

Local youth will frolic in a variety of events that include art projects, games and other hands-on-activities. The event is also done in conjunction with the Los Alamos Parks and Recreations Department’s Hershey’s Track and Field event. This event is designed for the 9 to 14-year-old crowd, that like to run, throw and  jump their way to victory.

The Los Alamos Youth Leadership teams are staffed by Stover, Heimdahl-Gibson, Barbara Marcille, Melissa Robinson, Art Brown and Cathe McClard and others which round out the program. The adult leaders are all graduates of the Leadership Los Alamos program. You can learn more about LAYL Wild Day or the next Los Alamos Youth Leadership session, which begins in July, by calling the Los Alamos YMCA at 662-3100 or by visiting the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board website.

The Los Alamos Youth Leadership program and the Leadership Los Alamos programs are actively seeking members for the class of 2010. Download registration information and forms at www.losalamosjjab.com or leadershiplosalamos.com.